My Past Continues To Die

A flurry of celebrity deaths of people all connected to the entertainment of my childhood and beyond…

First, producer Gene Reynolds died at a ripe old 96. He’d produced the early seasons of M*A*S*H along with Lou Grant and Hogan’s Heroes, Room 222 and a bunch of other stuff. Especially considering that M*A*S*H’s best years were under his & Larry Gelbart’s supervision, countless hours were spent (and often still are) watching Reynolds’ shows.

Then Orson Bean got hit by two cars while walking in Venice Beach. The first knocked the 91 year old to the ground and the second ran him over. I haven’t read any more about it – I hope it wasn’t some moron on their phone. Bean was a mainstay on game shows like To Tell The Truth back in the day, and more recently was wonderful in Being John Malkovich. Long ago, a friend of mine appeared with Bean in a small theater production out here – a very odd musical about John Cleves Symmes’ attempt in the 19th century to find the hole at the north pole leading to the center of the Earth. I’ll always remember hearing how after the playwright got stone-drunk after witnessing the flop of premiere night, supposedly Bean, playing Symmes’ old professor narrating the tale, came backstage and announced something along the lines of “Looks like we got us here a real bomb, folks!” and everyone erupted in laughter.

For the record, the actors were fine, some set design items were clever… but the script? Ye Gods!

Every backstage story I heard about Bean fit his TV persona.

And then, Robert Conrad died yesterday, star of one of my favorite old shows, The Wild Wild West. Conrad was always reliable for fist fights with his stuntmen buddies in numerous scenes (usually the legendary Red West and Whitey Hughes), and for playing tough guys. He played one of the scuzzier Columbo villains as well, a fitness guru who runs a string of crooked health clubs and murders the guy who discovers the Ponzi scheme behind them. His WW2 TV show got made fun of a lot in its day, but looking back on it in reruns, it’s a decent wartime adventure show with its plots loosely based on the memoirs of Conrad’s role, “Pappy” Boyington.

Conrad had a sense of humor about his image, doing those silly battery ads or losing foot races to Gabe Kaplan on Battle of the Network Stars. Many years ago when Howard Stern’s fans made it their business to phone into the Larry King Live show on CNN and annoy King with endless Stern promotion after King and Stern had some feud, Conrad was on King’s show being interviewed about some project he had coming up, and the Stern-themed calls started rolling in. King kept getting angrier and angrier, but Conrad couldn’t stop laughing and playing along with them.

It’s what Jim West woulda done, with Artie Gordon calling in.

Want more treasured elements of the past to blow up before your eyes? Well, why not start with tonight’s Oscar Awards.

I won’t make any Oscar predictions this year. I just don’t care anymore. I haven’t watched the broadcast in the last couple of years, and I’m not missing anything. I still love movies, but this event no longer has any sort of luster or importance to me at all.

And the WORST of all?

Well, I just got back from running some errands which included a stop at the 99 Cents Only store. And as I browsed the aisles, I noticed more and more items that are NOT 99 cents, but are labeled as supposed “bargains” at 2.99, 3.99, 9.99 and so forth.

They ought to change the name of the store to 99 Cents On Some Stuff, Anyway instead of 99 Cents Only. Amirite?

AND they didn’t have a big plastic pasta strainer to replace the one I have that developed a few cracks. NOR did they have the brand of deodorant I like. THOSE BASTARDS.

But karma – the shopping Gods smiled upon me, and I found a very nice wool winter jacket up the street at Goodwill for only twenty bucks. SO SUCK IT, 99 CENTS FOR WHAT WE BAIT AND SWITCH YOU WITH STORE.

Now I’m home, about to check the math on my friggin taxes. Bah.

Random Thoughts 2/5/20

Item one: Pitchers & catchers haven’t even reported yet, and the Yankees reported today that pitcher James Paxton underwent back surgery to remove a tiny cyst and will be out for TWO TO THREE MONTHS.

Do the months November, December and January exist? Why the hell did they wait until now to do this surgery?

They replaced the pitching and hitting coaches last November. WHEN WILL THEY REPLACE THIS PATHETIC INCOMPETENT MEDICAL AND TRAINING STAFF who can’t prevent injuries?

That team is looking at somewhere around 110 wins if they stay healthy. And those morons are ALREADY messing it up before spring training even begins.

Item Two: Last night, I dreamed that John Wayne told me that he’d been to an educational conference up in Seattle and that Bill Gates kept talking about me and what I could do to help out with school choice. Wayne told me he also thought I was just the guy to do it, and that I had what it took as a man even if I “hung around with nerds,” in his words.

Not sure why I had that particular dream. I hadn’t been watching John Wayne movies, nor have I been in discussions or arguments over school choice issues recently.

Perhaps John Wayne has actually visited me in my dreams from beyond the afterlife, although I’d think he’d have better things do spend eternity on than wonky crap with Bill Gates & then seeking me out as if I’m the anointed one. On the other hand, maybe that’s his way out of purgatory. I’ll try to see if dreaming up a conversation with St. Thomas Aquinas tonight clears up that issue, and as long as I have the saint’s ear, I’ll ask him what the Yankees’ injury prognosis for the 2020 season is.

He probably roots for the Cardinals anyway.

Oh, I just crack myself up.

Item 3: RIP, Kirk Douglas. One of the last great old time movie stars. Here’s hoping you meet up with John Wayne and have some bourbon, come to think of it. Maybe you’ll turn up in my dreams someday, maybe it’ll be about tariffs or infrastructure instead of school choice, or maybe you’ll just ring my doorbell and try to sell me Girl Scout cookies.

Whatever it is, I hope that it’s like what must have been in your contract for countless movies, and you get to take your shirt off and scream at me.

“TRY THE SAMOAS, YOU DEGENERATE SADISTIC OLD MAN! AND YOU CAN GO TO HELL BEFORE I SELL YOU THIN MINTS NOW OR EVER AGAIN!”

To which I’d respond “I’m Spartacus!”

Then I’d tell him not to fight with Von Ellstein and direct “The Proud Land” himself. It’ll be a sure bomb that way.

After all these years, I Have Been Absorbed

After spending my entire life NOT owning one and being rather smug about it for the past several years, I finally had to give in and get a smart phone.

I kept an old-school flip phone in my car strictly for emergencies (and used it a few times, actually), but that was it. If you wanted to reach me, you called my house or used email.

And that will still be the case – I’m only getting the thing since a phone app is the only way, evidently, to manage a Tesla house battery, something that will be added to Rancho Del Wagstaff in the near future.

Tesla doesn’t let you log into a website and see the control panel of the thing, it’s only on a phone. I’ll have to monitor it’s recharging and certainly need the ability to tweak its usage if it’s powering my house during a power outage, especially the ones those BASTARDS induce on purpose during wind events so that they can try to avoid lawsuits for starting fires with equipment they’ve neglected for years (while raking in tons of profits) in forested areas this STUPID FUCKING STATE refuses to brush-clear and tree trim properly because they might make some stupid flea-bitten rabid farting forest dwelling mouse upset.

That’s what I’m really up against here. I thought about heading up this post with a “One of us, one of us” theme with a picture of the banquet from “Freaks,” but since I’m doing all of this because I’m at the mercy of the stupid pod people who run this stupid state and its institutions, I went with being in Veronica Cartwright’s place at the end of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

Although in California, I think it’s been Invasion of the Common Sense Snatchers.

So now I’ll have a smart phone. The thing has a camera better than my li’l $10-at-a-yardsale digital camera. Maybe I’ll start up an instagram author page to go with this blog. Who knows, we’ll see. The one sure thing is that i’ll keep bitching about everything. The only area I can think of where I’ll use the phone outside of battery monitoring will be to quickly look up the value of books or other crap I spot at yardsales and thrift stores. No more rolling the dice as to whether something will be flipable on ebay, I guess.

In any case, I’ll feel like I’ve caught up to living in 2008.

My preferred set up

Tonic Water Adventures

It’s not easy to be a healthy drinker.

When I needed to cut carbs out of my diet, it meant cutting down on my consumption of beer. I used to be pretty much a beer ‘n’ wine guy, depending on whatever I had for dinner. Italian food? Wine. Chinese, Indian? Beer. BBQ, pizza, American? Well, either, really.

When I wanted to maintain variety and not drink wine every night, I figured I could work in some cocktails into the rotation, since I also enjoy having a drink while I cook as well as matching a drink with my meal.

So I learned which whiskeys I like, and how I like them (rather simply) with water or seltzer and a little lemon.

But I also love tonic water – the sweet/sour flavor of it, as well as that hard-to-pin-down quinine flavoring. I prefer gin to vodka, so gin & tonics have served as a nice drink to have now and then….

…. but while I found various gins that I like (and I can get giant Tanqueray bottles at Costco, yay!), it’s been the tonic water that has been the bane of my existence.

Why?

HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP.

Yes, the EVIL that is HFCS turns up in nearly EVERY brand of tonic water. I’d totally cut out soda from my diet to help with weight loss. And regardless of what the science is behind cane sugar versus high fructose corn syrup, I’m willing to settle with the mere FEELING that HFCS is WAY worse for my metabolism than regular cane sugar.

And I can tell the difference in flavor – Mexican Coca-Cola, made with cane sugar, tastes superior to the HFCS version normally available.

And judging from the way they market Mexican Coke as well as other cane sodas, I’m not alone.

So where is the cane sugar tonic water?

For a while, Trader Joes sold a tonic water under their own label with cane sugar – and then stopped, those BASTARDS.

There’s a cane sugar tonic water made for Whole Foods – it’s not bad, but it’s pretty sweet, and my G&Ts have a candy-esque quality to them/

Recently I discovered Fever Tree tonic water – it’s a little pricier even when found in the supermarket or Target or Wal-Mart, but it uses lower amounts of sweetener, doesn’t use HFCS, and doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the gin or lime I add to my G&Ts. So I’d highly recommend the stuff.

I’m tempted to try their other mixers now. And considering how cheap & set in my ways I am, that’s saying a lot.

Small Rodent CSI Needed

The big mouse/baby rat who perished last night in my previous post presents a mystery. Turns out he was NOT poisoned, or killed in the library by Colonel Mustard with the revolver.

This morning I dug him a small grave among the rosemary in my backyard, and (I love saying this) upon examining the body, it turns out he had a small but most likely deep puncture wound on the left side of his little throat under the chin. He most likely bled out from it, or it possibly also punctured his windpipe. It must have taken him hours to die. Ugh.

I did NOT do an autopsy.

I looked all around the area of the house where he first turned up, an area walled and gated off – no sign of any stray nail or the like where the poor little guy may have impaled himself. No blood on any of the screens blocking attic vents. There are probably some sharp edges inside my dryer vent, but that has a little door on it and I saw no signs of trouble there.

What kind of animal attack would produce one fatal wound and leave him to die without eating him?

Do rats fight and kill each other for dominance? And if so, why no scratches or a double wound from a pair of fangs?

Could some fight with a bird have done it? One good peck in that spot could be a killer, though the mouse would have to be on his back for it.

Did he owe a crow money?

It’s a real mystery. Theories welcome.

Good News & Sad News

I’ll start with the GOOD news – one of the greatest awful-yet-entertaining movies of all time is FINALLY getting its DVD release.

Kino-Lorber has announced that The Oscar from 1966 is getting a full 4K restoration, as well as commentary tracks from Patton Oswalt, Erik Nelson and Josh Olsen for Hollywood snark, as well as a track from film historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson.

I wrote about the wonders of this film several years ago, so please click on the link to read why you NEED to buy this DVD when it’s released in February.

Harlan Ellison is unfortunately not around to add an audio commentary track, but it looks like the Kino people have consulted his widow, Susan, and hopefully got a lot of material to work with.

I think Jill St. John and Tony Bennett are the only surviving cast members.

The sad news? Well, I just went outside to throw some trash out, and sitting next to my recycling trash can was a cute little rat who looked like he was dying. Totally out of it, barely reacted to me, and it looked from the little puddle of dried piss under his butt that he may have been out there a while.

Maybe one of my neighbors put down some rat poison, in which case I’ll have to make sure to throw him in my grass clippings bin once he’s finally dead to avoid anything up the food chain also stroking out.

Or maybe he’s just depressed and giving up on everything, sitting next to my bin and thinking “Oh go ahead, just kill me and eat me, giant monkey boy” when I threw the trash out.

I feel pretty bad about not doing anything for him. My impulse is to help a sick animal, but it’s probably best to just let nature take its course here. No signs of rats in my house or trying to chew their way in, that’s good. Not sure where a food supply for the little bastard would be, either, since my apple tree’s production days are long months ago.

Poor thing.

UPDATE: I have been informed that Elke Sommer is still alive. And I can inform you that the cute little rat (or large mouse… I really can’t tell) finally died and is out of its misery.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑